Bleed Out: An Ashen Stars Campaign

Episode 1.1 "Witness of My Worth" part 2 of 2
Ares-3, Aventine Cluster

Parking the shuttle just outside the settlement, the effectuators approached the open-air bar to hard stares and reticence.

When asked about the Ev-base settlers, the bartender dismissed them as “suitfruits,” but seemed surprised to hear about their deaths.

Checking out one of the barflies, Vedeg approached a human woman bristling with broken-down cyberware and turned on the charm. The woman, Lora Vasquez, was more than receptive, running her fingers along the rough fleshy jointures between skin and shell while she spilled what she knew.

She was surprised about the massacre at the EvBase. Nobody around here much liked the suitfruits. The only EvBaser anybody liked was McClung, who could hold his liquor. But he stopped coming here lately, and relations between the base and the community deteriorated even further.

The ringleader in the campaign against the base is a guy name of Derek Streets. There’s no one more respected than him among the salvagers. The ringleader in the campaign against the base is a guy name of Derek Streets. There’s no one more respected than him among the salvagers.

She sadly added that if there were Mohilar secrets to be uncovered here, they’d have been found already.

Conversation was interrupted when a truck barreled into town, driver and passenger firing shots toward the bar. Townies scrambled for cover, and the Lasers took cover to return fire. The driver stood on the steering wheel, his torso fully out the sunroof while he steered with his feet; a woman leaned out the passenger side; both fired disruptor rifles at the bar. A third man clung tightly to the truck’s grill.

The Lasers return fire stunned the driver, and the out-of-control truck slammed into a freestanding concrete-and-rebar slab, a section of ruined building. The man on the grille was impaled and crushed, and townies descended upon the Lasers, a few headsets recording the entire incident.

The Lasers talked the townsfolk down and took the surviving attackers, Derek Streets and Berta Cordo back to their shuttle for examination. Using an espresser to wake Streets revealed only madness. He yelled variations on the following:

“Blood! Blood! Always remember martial glory!:

“With proud down-smashing fists he saved Ares-3.”

“Stand up against the treacherous durugh! Stand tall against the [inaudible gibberish] Mohilar!”

Sedating him, they woke Cordo, who retained no recent memory. The last thing she remembered was approaching a destination to the northeast of the settlement. Derek told her he’d taken some unexplained atmospheric readings after an ashen stars manifestation a few days back, and that it might lead them to an interesting scrubber technology or something.

Upon closer examination, NCC1701 noticed scorch marks where Streets’ and Cordo’s headsets meet their temples, as if the devices had somehow delivered powerful electrical shocks. Their injuries from the shock effect were severe, but looking back at the readings he’d taken from the Ev-Base crew’s autopsies revealed similar, subtler effects.

Downloading the data from Cordo’s headset, the Lasers identified the probably destination to which Derek had led Cordo, and they decided to investigate.

They took their shuttle to the coordinates and found the Brian Hudd Museum, dedicated to the famous Admiral of the Mohilar war. One wing of the museum lay crushed under a toppled skyscraper.

The Lasers took the precaution of turning off their headsets. Opting against the clearly open front entrance, the investigators made their own entrance with explosives and disruptor fire. Inside, a calm, disembodied voice greeted them. Scanning the facility revealed that the Museum’s generators had been running for three days, but atmospheric scrubbers on top of the building had been going for much longer, presumably to protect the artifacts in the museum.

The Museum AI greeted them in a garbled message, urging them to go to the Combatorium. Digging into the Museum AI’s files showed that a large contiguous group of files was corrupted and inaccessible. Eventually entering the Combatorium, the AI urged them to fight, but the Lasers refused. Instead, they decided to blow the building and the AI, which they determined was somehow scrambling people’s brains through their headsets.

Planting explosives throughout the museum, the Lasers succeeded at leveling it. However, when they boarded their shuttle and power up their comms, the AI’s message continued; it had been uploaded into Ares-3’s ionosphere. Eventually, Deadbeef transformed into a passable likeness of Brian Hudd and ordered the Museum AI to shut down, and it did so.

Episode 1.1 "Witness of My Worth" part 1 of 2
ARES-3, Aventine Cluster

Captain’s Log, Stardate 12062015. Arrived in Aventine Cluster in response to contract. Eventless journey, except for the smell in the crew quarter. Need to get that taken care of soon…

NC-17 tells us the history of ARES-3, including the story of Admiral Hudd. That shape-shifter knows a lot. Can’t reach Alpha-1 base by standard com.

Deadbeet scanned the surface – as expected 10,000’s of settlers around the city ruins, prolly scavenging.

Combine-type hauler came out of FTL near ARES-3 as we were establishing orbit – trying to intercept com but waves are flat.

lost control of helm, com, and weapons control due to a virus – ship turned to attack the hauler. recovered control and established com with hauler. Quiruk is the hauler designation, COO Redik demanded we give reason for our aggression. We told them and asked their reason for exiting FTL here. They claimed “humanitarian relief” for the illegal settlers on-planet. Seems a big coincidence with losing our ship control. We decided to reassure them that if they leave we will not be long nor report their infraction. They reluctantly agreed.

Decided to investigate the source of the virus that took over ship controls. Found space-FORTRAN code was beamed up from surface near base Alpha-1. Heading down to surface in the shuttle larva. Dealt with turbulent entry due to remnants of bombing during the big war.

Parked the shuttle on top of a razed hospital overlooking the park that Alpha-1 base is in.

Security Stanchions were hacked so our codes received with the contract were worthless. Deadbeet hacked them and we investigated the truck hastily parked outside Alpha-1. The inside is very well-kept, especially considering the mess that the rest of the planet is in.

Deadbeet noticed the door to Alpha-1 is rigged with a bomb, and NC-17, Hurtlocker-style disarmed it with a coat hanger scavenged from the truck.

On the other side of the door we found the slumped dead body of Carlo Patrick. Searching the rest of the base we found that all the Alpha-1 base personnel were murdered by blunt-force trauma or disruption fire. 3 days ago, aside from Zach who died from poisoning 2 days ago.

We discovered by hacking the mainframe that Zach was banned from going to the local settler bar. The deaths seemed to be all caused by members of the team. next step: checking the bar.